Long Beach Freeway Saga

The Los Angeles Times reports progress toward completion of the Long Beach Freeway (I-710) gap between Valley Boulevard in East Los Angeles and Pasadena, with a geologic study finding a tunnel alignment to be feasible. Real progress is overdue. My great aunt and great uncle were forced out of their house in the early 1960s in South Pasadena by the California Highway Department, in anticipation of building the freeway. I suspect the house is still there.

For nearly one-half century, South Pasadena residents have opposed building the “Meridian” route that would have dissected the city. They were not against the freeway per se, but rather preferred the “Westerly” route, which would have skirted the city. The state had selected the Meridian route. In the middle 1980s, while a member of the Los Angeles County Transportation Commission, I served on a special route selection committee chaired by former county supervisor Peter F. Schabarum. Under our legislative authority, we also selected the Meridian route. Nothing came of it.

It is to be hoped that serious efforts to close the gap will be underway soon.

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Broadening the picture

"The situation underscores a basic philosophical difference between the counties. L.A. has focused its transportation money on opening new rail lines: the Gold Line Eastside extension, which opened over the weekend, and the Expo Line from downtown to Culver City, which is under construction. Orange County doesn't have light rail and has focused its resources largely on improving freeways and surface streets...Leahy said this type of opposition is what L.A. County has had to deal with for decades because of its relative higher density. 'Increasingly, Orange County is beginning to move toward the same kind of community resistance that is in Los Angeles,' he said, 'L.A. is about 30 or 40 years further along in the process of becoming a big city.'


David Parvo
Most Senior Fellow
THE Placemaking Institute